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H&M and Ikea examine chemicals in recycling

H&M and Ikea are studying the chemical content in post-consumer textile recycling. H&M is using recycled materials in its products as one of the key elements in the group’s ambition to become totally circular and renewable. But merely taking up textile recycling would be fruitless as the chemical content of collected pre-owned textiles is unknown. This project with Ikea, under way since last year, was taken up to ensure the safe reuse of materials in the circular system and to ensure good chemical management. The initial focus for the study has been post-consumer cotton, with polyester and wool-rich post-consumer textiles to be included as the study progresses.

The two Swedish retail giants have conducted over 8,000 tests on collected recyclable textiles and think they will have better possibilities to develop an action plan for the use of recycled textiles while meeting strict safety standards. They believe their results could influence the wider industry. The ambition for the study is to use the findings to encourage industry peers towards increased use of recycled textiles and to serve as a base for legislation and standardisation regarding chemicals in recycled textiles.

Recycled materials are key elements in a circular economy. However, increasing the use of recycled materials while ensuring these textiles are kept free of toxic chemicals presents a challenge for the industry.